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Laurie Penny was asking for it

Ok in the words of the kids I ‘epic failed’ today. Whilst reading the excellent piece by David Allen Green in The New Stateman entitled Is it the Sun what lost it? detailing the Ryan Giggs affair and how the newspaper still cannot report the juicy bits that would actually cause people to buy said newspaper, my eyes were drawn to to the headline Ken Clarke was asking for it by the feminist writer Laurie Penny and I was sucked in, clicked on and subsequently read the vitriol she spilled out from her keyboard.

Now we know that rape is more prevalent in men but women also commit rape. Men also commit rape on other men – certainly in prisons all over the world. Rape is not just a problem for the females of this world but say that and you are a hieratic in the eyes of feminists but it is true and this issue needs to be addressed. In this feminists piece she started her summing up with the following:

Ken Clarke’s repulsive, reactionary comments are part of a culture that still misunderstands consent, punishes female sexual agency, and wilfully ignores the scale and prevalence of rape

No Miss Penny I think we all understand that no means no – don’t tar the human species with your brush of superiority. I understand that. Everyone who is reading this blog understands that. Ken Clarke understands that. So this is not a cultural problem. As for ignoring the scale or prevalence of rape – really? Most people will know of someone who has been raped. Most people whilst not having been raped will have seen what it does to the lives of the victims. Whilst rape isn’t exactly an open discussion forum it also isn’t something that the people of the world are exactly clueless about either.

I shall let her carry on in her own words:

Unfortunately, Clarke is no ordinary sexist

*does a double take and interrupts*

Ken Clarke is a sexist? Come again? When was that put out there? Did I miss that memo? Ok so we can all agree that Ken Clarke’s comments were not terrific but by saying that there are different types of rape is that really sexist? Are there different types of murder? Is a mother killing her abusive husband after years of abuse an identical crime to someone who has stalked his victim and beaten them up and then drowned them in a lake? Both are murder in law as they killed someone with full intent to cause death or serious injury but as jurors we would look at those two crimes differently but in law they are identical. I know rape is the debate that we are allowed to have as it is an abhorrent crime but to say Ken Clarke is sexist because of his comments are not just un-just but also wholly inaccurate. Does his comments bear truth that he believes that the male species are superior to the female one? Looking at what he said it clearly does not.

Ok Laurie your turn again:

Clarke made a serious mistake, and he deserves to be seriously sacked – but it will take more than a handful of resignations and high-profile prosecutions to bring an end to a culture of complacency where rape is everyday violence.

Ken Clarke being sacked would do nothing to stop or slow down rape crime. Correct. Bravo. However he should also not be sacked as what good would that do? Is he too liberal on rape or is it just the fact that he thinks that there are different types of rape that bares the brunt of your angst? Did Ken Clarke ever say that he didn’t think rape was a crime? No. Did Ken Clarke ever say that he wanted rapists freed quicker? No. Did Ken Clarke ever say that he has raped anyone? No. Did Ken Clarke say anything that in the cold light of day could be construed as anything other than an opinion which people might disagree with but is perfectly valid.

Rape as I have said before is worse than murder in many ways but just because the Justice Secretary says that all crimes are not the same doesn’t mean that he is insensitive but more like he is doing his job. No two crimes are ever identical. There are circumstances behind every crime that are specific to that crime. To tell all judges to give the exact same sentence for every crime is moronic.

As we know now seven days on Ken Clarke has not gone and is still in office. The piece that was written on that day by Laurie Penny linked above is testament to the reactionary world we live in today and it is a scary place. On Question Time the next night he came across extremely well and a lot better than for example Jack Straw or Melanie Phillips. Ken Clarke might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he has shown very little evidence that he is sexist.

Just because someone says something you disagree with does not make them evil and nor does it make them sexist.

We’ll end with one last point and rebuttal from me. Laurie…

The world is full of rape, and this week, the headlines are full of rape. As the head of the IMF languishes in a New York prison on a charge of sexually assaulting a maid in his Manhattan hotel.

Charged is key term. Innocent until proven guilty. You cannot make a case that the world is full of rape (which it is) and your first example is about someone who has not been found guilty in a court of law. That is just poor journalism. Plenty of people are charged with crimes that they have not done. Plenty of people are found wrongly innocent or guilty of crimes too. We have to let these things play out.

PS: I hate the title of this blog but as you used Ken Clarke in the same terminology I felt like I had to. I feel disgusting.

Edit 30 May: I would like to apologise for anyone who feels offended by the title of this piece. As I wrote originally just above I was not happy with the title but went with it. It retrospect it was not right and as someone pointed out – two wrongs don’t make a right.

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  1. I hate it when people use “feminist” as a term of abuse.

    I don’t agree with a lot what Laurie wrote, but a lot of what she says is valid. You need to bear in mind that “rape culture” is a technical term, much like “theory” in science does not mean what it means to the lay person, and perhaps Laurie was unwise to use it without clarification.

    But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Because I’m a feminist and my views can thus be safely dismissed as lunatic ramblings. Also, I am female, so my views can be dismissed for that too. Oh yeah, and I have been raped, so my views can be dismissed because I am just a hysterical woman who was asking for it.

    (Laurie was wrong to use that trigger phrase in her headline. Two wrongs don’t make a right).

    • admin admin

      As you have already stated to me on twitter that you may have been a tad harsh on this I shall clarify my position.

      Nothing wrong with feminism at all. It is elitest feminism that is in my opinion a problem. Equality for all is great but I personally have found that some feminists do not like a debate and see everything in black or white. When you can’t have a debate then I have an issue. As for Laurie herself – she is perfectly entitled to her opinion – as is everyone – but also anyone can have an opinion on anyone’s said opinion. You are perfectly valie to have an opinion on my opinion – feminist or not.

      As I said at the end of the piece – I did not like the headline one jot but I went there. You are probably more than fair to say it was unwise and uncalled for and I accept that. I shall clarify one other point with you privately as it is not for a public forum.

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